You may be wondering even now: What is a lucid dream? It’s quite simple, really. You may have already had a few on accident. A lucid dream is when you’re dreaming, and your conscious mind realizes that you’re dreaming. If you’ve ever had a moment where you think “Hey, is a dream,” and it is, then you’ve had a lucid dream. 

What are lucid dreams?

That isn’t anything to phone home about, but where it gets interesting is when dreamers can purportedly control their dreams – or at least parts of them. This means you can bend space and time, Matrix style. You can fly with no wings, you can shoot lasers out of your eyes, and you and dream-Miranda Kerr can finally consummate your relationship. Sound too good to be true? Yeah, a lot of people think that.

Are lucid dreams for real? 

The short answer is that, yes, they are. There’s little disagreement within the scientific community as to whether or not you can realize that you’re dreaming: you can. And, while many people claim to be able to control their dreams, there’s very little (no) direct scientific evidence to prove it. However, there is a plenty of evidence to suggest that some people can outright control their dreams, or at the very least, influence them to be more positive. 

One such study found that a group of patients who suffered from chronic nightmares, when taught lucid dreaming techniques, were able to mitigate the frequency and intensity of their nightmares. They got (a little) better! 

How can I start lucid dreaming?

There’s plenty of methods that people have, anecdotally, claimed are affective for inducing a lucid dream. There’s more than a few books written about the subject, but here is a cursory list for you to give a whirl. 

Start a dream journal

This technique is pretty ubiquitous as a beginner’s first step to inducing lucid dreams. The idea behind this isn’t very scientific, but it basically boils down to you writing down what you dreamt the instant you wake up. Even if it’s in the middle of the night. The idea is to get you used to identifying the types of dreams you normally have, so that when you’re actually having them, you’ll be more apt to recognize them. You wouldn’t go on a safari without looking up animals in a book first, right? Same principle. 

Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreaming

Get it? The acronym is MILD. This technique suggests that, when you wake from a dream, focus on remembering it. List the details to yourself and try to hold as many of them as you can in your mind. Then, lay down and attempt to go back to sleep while telling yourself that you’re going to remember that your dreaming during your next dream. This is a sort of positive affirmation technique that rarely works without a strong foundation of dream journaling or other techniques to support it.

Reality testing

This technique boarders on being the crazy guy talking to yourself on corners, but the idea is to regularly ask your brain, “is this real?” Common techniques for doing this include watching a digital clock to make sure it’s progressing, looking at a page of text, looking away, then looking back to it in order to see if it changed, or identifying minute details in any particular scene at all. By training your brain to ask about reality when you’re awake, you make it easier to ask the same question when asleep.  

The NovaDeamer

The NovaDeamer is basically the only gadget on the market designed to pull you into a state of lucid dreaming.  It’s fairly simple:  you wear it like you would any normal sleep mask, but the Novadreamer can monitor the movements of your eyes.  And, when you enter REM sleep (when all lucid dreaming occurs), it flashes lights in the mask.  You then, in theory, see these lights in your dream, and they remind you that you’re, in fact, asleep.  There is no price on the site for the NovaDeamer, but as of this post, you can get it on eBay for $350.